Thursday, May 08, 2008

Letter to Swee'pea: 27 months

Dear Swee'pea:
As of yesterday, you are 27 months old. This month I have finally begun counting your age in years instead of months (except of course for the previous sentence): two and a quarter. When you were first born, you changed every day and every week, but as you grow older, you grow slower, so now, it seems appropriate to count your age in quarter-years.

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This month you have begun calling me Mommy instead of Mama. Your dad and I got into the habit of calling ourselves Mommy and Daddy when you were first born, but I never really liked being Mommy. When you started talking and called me Mama, I loved it. I much prefer being Mama instead of Mommy. Now, when I ask you to call me Mama instead you get a mischievious grin and repeat louder, "Mommy. Mommy. Mommymommymommy!" So I've given up asking. I hope it's just a phase and at some point you'll go back to Mama.

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The cutest word you've learned this month is naked. You say it sort of like neh neh but my spelling doesn't do justice to the way you say it. There is a sharpness to the second n, like an almost silent t on the end of the first neh. Sometimes you pull your shirt up and point to your bare belly and say, "Neh neh." Others, you wait until you are truly naked to yell, "Neh neh!" and run into the bathroom. I've been trying to keep track of all your words for your speech therapist. I wonder if she'll think I'm taking liberties with your vocabulary, writing down ba for everything from car to ball to bath. I didn't bother recording the time ba meant crap (you said it several times right after something went wrong and I said, "Crap!"). I did, however, record boob and big poo, a bit sheepishly, and earlier today, Chinese (Dineeze), which you said while you were watching Big Bird Goes to China (still your only favourite dvd). [By the way, I wasn't blogging while you were watching tv, I was cooking dinner. And you started out by pulling your mini-recliner into the kitchen, sitting on it, and, as I started cutting up veg, declaring, "Deedee doe" (cooking show)].

Right now you keep coming up to me with your sunglasses held up to your eyes (the ones you have refused to actually wear, like with the band around your head) and proclaiming, "Daw! Daw!" (Dark). It's like I can't get enough of this.

Whereas last month you wanted to do everything yourself, this month you seem more interested in finding out what you can make other people do for you. You remain a study in contrasts, swinging from imperious bellows to courteous sweetness, from screaming meltdowns to octopus cuddles. You've become a bit more clingy recently, and now demand loudly, "Ba!" (Up!) with your arms stretched up and a grumpy, imperious look on your face. No please, no lift in your intonation that would make it more a request and less a command. As much as I love (almost) every opportunity to cuddle you, I do not care for that tone. So every time, I ask you what the magic word is and you say "Peez" as I put my hands under your armpits. But in other ways you are uncommonly courteous: if I wipe your nose, you say "saytu Mommy," and if I'm in your way, you always Memee Mommy as you squeeze by. If I offer you something you don't want, you say, "No peez," or "yeah peez," if you do.

You love your daycare. You were sick last week and had to stay home a couple of days, and every morning you cried to go to school. Of course, it's a good thing that you like it so much, but I couldn't help but doubt my parenting and wonder what we were doing wrong to make you dislike home so much. I don't think mother guilt ever goes away, no matter what choices we make. You've been getting more negative reports again lately. Things like having to be reminded to listen to the teachers, and now wanting to share anything, and, this week, even "testing the teachers to see what you can get away with." That last one actually made me a little happy to know that I'm not the only one you're testing.

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Last weekend was your dad's birthday, and I made him a cake. You helped, sort of, by which I mean you stood on a chair and grabbed utensils and measuring cups while I mixed stuff in and told you what I was doing. It was your naptime when the cakes went into the oven, and you didn't understand the concept or necessity of baking before eating it. You screamed and wept and railed. You assumed your favourite yoga posture for meltdowns: on your knees, forehead to the floor. That you choose this posture for most tantrums instead of flat on your back seems to me like more evidence that you are an old soul.

You've discovered the question why. You say it with a y sound instead of a w sound, and you draw out the eye sound for a long time. I don't think I need to tell you this can get very tiresome, very quickly. But it's also kind of fun, thinking up answers to the things you ask why about.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to Cuba. I don't think very many two-year-olds (ok, two and a quartre-year-olds) can say they've been to South African and Cuba. I never set out to take you around the world as a baby and toddler, but it seems I'm just coming into myself as a traveller, like some kind of late adolescence, and so you come with us.

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The first time we stepped onto the beach, you cried. You didn't want to walk on the sand. It felt too strange. But we coaxed you to try it, one step at a time, and eventually you became an old pro at walking barefoot on the beach. And you loved the little showers that washed the sand off. You liked the ocean too, but after the second day at the beach and the first sea-swim, you refused to go back to the beach. Your dad asked why, and I said, "Oh he never answers that question," because I've tried many times. Which is when you answered: too sunny. So we didn't go back to the beach.

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I guess I underestimated the impact the changes of travel would have on you. I've always seen you as a fairly laid back person, like your dad, mostly because you never seemed to get overstimulated as a baby. But being two is different from being a baby. You did well, mostly. You slept great, you ate decently, you loved the buses, and did well on the plane ride home (not so much on the plane ride there, but who could blame you? We had to get up at 4 am so by the time we got on the plan, you were done. Thank goodness for the peole next to us who shared their portable dvd player with you long enough for you to finally drop off to mercifully silent sleep). It was more the transitions, when we'd stop doing something you enjoyed and move onto something else, and mealtimes. And you were a nightmare in the restaurants, screeching, refusing to sit in a high chair, then not staying in the big chairs and literally running all over the dining room. Other diners smiled indulgently at us while we took turns chasing you around, remembering their own days chasing toddlers.

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There were lots of fun times too. On our last day there, we spent lots of time at the pool, which you loved. You splashed and stomped and ran from the "deedee doo" (little pool) to the "bee doo" (big pool), and never seemed to tire. Your dad and I braced ourselves for the screaming transition to getting ready for dinner, but you handled it like a star. We'd made sure you were decently fed in advance (I think many of your meltdowns are hunger-driven, which you come by honestly), and so you happily had a little wash of your feet in the foot-shower, and pointed at the koi in the little pond as you walked by. It was such a pleasure to follow behind your happy strides that I asked your dad, "Do these moments outweigh the bad ones? Is travelling with a two-year-old worth it?"

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(You made a friend in Havana.)

He thought for a moment (like he always does; he's a very considered man, your dad), and said simply, "Yeah, I do."

I do too. I get a happy feeling of containment travelling as a trio in between the grumps and frustrations that probably come with all travels, solo or family.

luckybeard
(I think mosquito bites will be the story of your life in warm weather.)

Last night I had to work late and your dad picked you up from daycare. When I got home you came running over full tilt, yelling, "Mommy's back!" You gave me your usual ferocious running hug that I always have to brace myself for and that once or twice have knocked me on my ass - literally. I asked you how your day was (good) and what your favourite part of the day was. You thought for a moment: "Ummm..." and then, "This."

I was confused for a second. "This?" Then I got it. "Seeing me?"

"Yeah!"

Anything I can say about how that made me feel is a cliche: melting my heart, bursting my heart, that kind of thing. But they're interesting images if you think about it. Both have to do with changing states, breaking molecules apart and putting them back together, fundamentally transformed. And that's really what becoming your mother is all about.

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(You're holding a baby coconut, in case you're wondering.)

Love Always and Forever,
Mum

9 comments:

Mad said...

Now that I've met him, these letters feel that much more personal and beautiful. LOVE the shot of the two of you reading in bed. I caught an early glimpse of it yesterday on flickr.

Mimi said...

Ditto what Mad said: he's even more adorable in person than in the blog, and these letters continue to inspire and impress me.

mamatulip said...

I LOVE these letters to your son. When Kgirl commented on Her Bad Mother's post, when she was interviewed for the Globe, I thought of these posts.

These are love letters to your children.

mamatulip said...

Sorry. To your CHILD.

(I'm so tired.)

Aliki2006 said...

Those photos almost leapt off the page, they are so vivid.

Beautiful...

Bon said...

oh my god, the two of you, riot of red...so beautiful.

Kyla said...

The photos!!! I love them all.

He's such a darling boy.

Janet said...

That last photo, his head of red resting against your chest...love it.

nomotherearth said...

I thought that my favourite photo would be the one of you two reading in bed, but I just love the one of him with the hat in Cuba! He looks like an English explorer - all he's missing is binoculars.